panache

noun

pa·​nache pə-ˈnash How to pronounce panache (audio) -ˈnäsh How to pronounce panache (audio)
1
: an ornamental tuft (as of feathers) especially on a helmet
The palace guard had a panache on his helmet.
2
: dash or flamboyance in style and action : verve
flashed his … smile and waved with the panache of a big-city mayorJoe Morgenstern

Illustration of panache

Illustration of panache
  • panache 1

Did you know?

Few literary characters can match the panache of French poet and soldier Cyrano de Bergerac, from Edmond Rostand’s 1897 play of the same name. In his dying moments, Cyrano declares that the one thing left to him is his panache, and that assertion at once demonstrates the meaning of the word and draws upon its history. In both French and English, panache (which traces back to Late Latin pinnaculum, “small wing”) originally referred to a showy, feathery plume on a hat or helmet; our familiar figurative sense debuted in the first English translation of Rostand’s play, which made the literal plume a metaphor for Cyrano’s unflagging verve even in death. In a 1903 speech Rostand himself described panache: “A little frivolous perhaps, most certainly a little theatrical, panache is nothing but a grace which is so difficult to retain in the face of death, a grace which demands so much strength that, all the same, it is a grace … which I wish for all of us.”

Examples of panache in a Sentence

She played the role of hostess with great panache.
Recent Examples on the Web To give the cake a little panache, Rochelle plans to add some icing for the special occasion. Erin Clack, Peoplemag, 22 Jan. 2024 No matter the source material, expect the songs to be handled with panache and soul. Washington Post, 11 Jan. 2024 To be innocent of an offense and yet to confess your guilt—not for pathological reasons but purely to get ahead in the world—takes a certain panache. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, 22 Dec. 2023 And that in many ways seemed to be an overriding theme of the night, as the audience dressed with a certain futuristic panache and dutifully had their phones stored in locked pouches. Mark Olsen, Los Angeles Times, 26 Nov. 2023 An old friend from Liverpool introduced Epstein to David Garrard Lowe, a young journalist with Look magazine who was smitten by Epstein’s intelligence and panache. Glenn Frankel, Washington Post, 4 Feb. 2024 And this cast sings the score as if it is embedded in their very DNA, with all the tonal shifts, subtle shadings, deft harmonies and tricky melismas delivered with virtuosic panache. Rod Stafford Hagwood, Sun Sentinel, 10 Jan. 2024 Georgia O'Keeffe might be an unexpected loafer icon, but according to Lauren Youngblood of See Saw, the artist is an icon of timeless comfort, done with panache. Erika Veurink, Vogue, 22 Dec. 2023 Both films were directed by the German émigré Henry Koster, who grew up in a musical milieu and handled the orchestra scenes with striking panache. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, 17 Dec. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'panache.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Middle French pennache, from Old Italian pennacchio, from Late Latin pinnaculum small wing — more at pinnacle

First Known Use

1553, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of panache was in 1553

Podcast

Dictionary Entries Near panache

Cite this Entry

“Panache.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/panache. Accessed 3 Mar. 2024.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!